There are various elements that go into making quality wine. Timing, grapes and safeguarding wine from contamination are just some of the important factors that go into the wine making process.
However, poor wine barrel cleaning can un-do a lot of the effort that goes into wine making. For a vessel that is used to store, age and enhance wine, the correct cleaning methods are vital to the quality of the wine.
Safeguards your wine from brettanomyces
The traditional process of washing barrels consists of using large amounts of water to flush, rinse and cleans out wine barrels.
However, hot water pressure washing alone does not kill bacteria and gets into the pores of the oak. Continuous high temperature steam vapour together with high pressure water injection is a natural cleaning process that does kills brettanomyces. Using hot water alone is merely just “washing” a barrel, not disinfecting it.
Stops old wine contaminating old wine
The oak used in wine barrels is very porous and accumulates tartrates and old wine that have been previously stored inside the barrel. Again, just with extracting brettanomyces and other volatiles from a wine barrel, the vapour property of dry steam releases tartrates and old wine that have been absorbed inside the wood.
With barrels costing approximately $1200 per barrel, enabling your wine barrel to prolong its life from the average 3 - 4 years by 25 per cent can save wineries thousands. The ability to capture and trap steam vapour within a wine barrel is a key way to ensure that a barrel is being hydrated and not being used past its "use by date". When steam is diffused through the top of the wine barrel and trapped inside, this creates a natural vacuum process. This allows for the steam to be dispersed throughout the entire barrel, not just the top or bottom providing deep santisation and detartration.